Home Oxygen Systems

Vol. 18 •Issue 15 • Page 17
Home Oxygen Systems

Best System Depends on Patient Preference

I did a little home care when I was looking for something new in my respiratory career. The company I worked for was a small one with only one delivery person. That meant therapists were responsible for picking up the slack when it came to dropping off supplies for customers. Normally that wouldn’t be so bad, but I remember one patient who lived in a high-rise condominium in downtown Philadelphia.

First of all, there was no place to park on the city streets, and we used concentrators and oxygen tanks. That meant every time Mr. Jones (not his real name) called for a delivery, it was a minimum 30-minute visit dropping off six to eight E cylinders and cleaning the filter on his oxygen concentrator.

Electric bills can be a little outrageous in Philadelphia. With the cold winters and summer time heat in some of those row-homes in the city, I remember getting a $183 bill for one month. People told me that was cheap.

High electric bills caused some of our clients to look for alternate means of serving their oxygen needs and lowering their energy bills.

In some cases, the cost of electricity was so bad some people would not use their concentrators, instead limiting their oxygen use to their portable E cylinders. I would find little or no hours registered for usage when I would make my routine checks. There were people who believed liquid oxygen was the way to go.

Look at Literature

This led me to wonder whether liquid O2 was better for patients. I questioned whether it was cheaper than concentrators and compressed gas.

In a study conducted by the Department of Lung Medicine at University Hospital in Trondheim, Norway, researchers looked at the differences, if any, in the long-term affects of liquid oxygen compared to oxygen concentrators and compressed gas cylinders. Results of their study were published in Respiratory Medicine (January 1998; 92, 1: 84-7).

“No significant differences were seen with respect to sex distribution or oxygen delivery systems,” researchers wrote. “Higher oxygen dose and longer daily oxygen treatment were prescribed for the liquid oxygen patients compared to the patients on traditional oxygen with statistically higher oxygen tension during the prescribed treatment.”

According to researchers, a slight increase in blood PaCO2 was seen in both groups during oxygen treatment, of doubtful significance.

“Compared with patients on traditional oxygen, liquid oxygen thus appears to be prescribed for younger patients, independent of clinical status or blood gas levels.”

Health Touch Online is an Internet resource that brings together valuable information from trusted sources on topics such as medications, health, diseases, supplements and natural medicine. That site has an entire page dedicated to people who use oxygen in various forms: liquid, concentrators and compressed.

“Liquid oxygen takes up less space than compressed oxygen, so it is more portable,” according to Health Touch Online. “You can refill small, lightweight liquid oxygen tanks from a big tank kept in your home. Liquid oxygen may cost more than other oxygen systems, and your liquid oxygen supply may not last as long as compressed oxygen because it can evaporate,” the site explains.

On the other hand, compressed oxygen is commonly found in pressurized metal tanks and does not need electrical power to operate like an oxygen concentrator does.

“Compressed oxygen cylinders are heavier than liquid oxygen containers, and portable cylinders can be wheeled in carts so you can move around while using then,” according to Health Touch.

Finally, an oxygen concentrator is an electric machine that takes oxygen out of the air and stores it. Patients who go this route must have a backup oxygen cylinder available at all times in case of a power outage.

Although there are people out there who prefer one form of home oxygen over another, the bottom line is finding something your patient population is comfortable using.

Marc Willis is a South Carolina television reporter.

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